Charles Dickens Investigates

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Charles Dickens wrote fourteen complete novels – the fifteenth, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, remains a mystery. Dickens died before he could unmask the murderer. He was fascinated by crime and police work. And when I read about his outings with Inspector Charles Field of the Metropolitan Police, I wondered what might happen if Charles Dickens was ever called upon to investigate a murder. Someone wrote of Dickens that he would have liked to be a detective – I gave him his first case. Dickens founded a home for fallen women in 1847 with Miss Angela Burdett Coutts to rescue young women who had nowhere else to go.

What if a murder took place at the home? Charles Dickens would surely want to find out who did it.

The Murder of Patience Brooke (Charles Dickens Investigations Book 1)

The Murder of Patience Brooke

A brutal murder in Victorian London forces a famous writer to solve the mystery…

London, 1849

Charles Dickens has set up Urania Cottage as a sanctuary for fallen women.

But he is shocked when the matron’s assistant – Patience Brooke – is found hanging outside the property, covered in blood.

Desperate to protect the reputation of the Home and to stop a scandal from spreading, Dickens takes the investigation into his own hands.

With the help of his good friend, Superintendent Sam Jones of Bow Street, and a description of the suspect as ‘a man with a crooked face’, Dickens’s search takes him deep into the filthy slums of Victorian London.

Can Dickens save his reputation? Will he find out the secrets of Patience Brooke’s troubled past? Or will the killer strike again …?


Death at Hungerford Stairs (Charles Dickens Investigations Book 2) 

Death at Hungerford Stairs

Boys are going missing from London’s slums…

When a boy is found drowned in the River Thames at Hungerford Stairs, novelist Charles Dickens and Superintendent Jones of Bow Street are mystified to discover that the child is not the missing youngster for whom they have been searching.

As Dickens and Jones delve deeper into London’s poverty-stricken backstreets, they stumble across two more bodies.

A serial killer is on the loose. And Charles is terrified that someone close to him may be one of the victims.

With a strange image of a mask sketched next to the corpses, could the murderer be leaving a trail for the detectives to follow…?

Or will the Death at Hungerford Stairs remain unsolved…?


Murder by Ghostlight (Charles Dickens Investigations Book 3)

Murder By Ghostlight
Dickens has gone from private investigator to prime suspect…

Charles Dickens is in Manchester, performing at the Queen’s Theatre with his acting group.

But his career on the stage is cut short when a man is shot dead – on set.

With Dickens himself caught with the gun in his hands, he is immediately arrested.

Along with the help of his good friend Superintendent Sam Jones, Dickens must do all he can to find the real killer, before he is locked up for a crime he didn’t commit.

Can Dickens convince the authorities of his innocence? Will he unmask the true assassin?

Or will there be another Murder by Ghostlight…?


The Quickening and the Dead (Charles Dickens Investigations Book 4) 

the quickening and the dead

Three girls, three deaths — but what connects them…?

Lavinia Gray vanishes on the eve of her wedding and is found drowned.

Evie Finch dies of septicaemia in a filthy lodging house.

Annie Deverall, a fifteen-year-old milliner’s apprentice is on remand in Newgate, accused of murdering the Doctor Lancelot Plume.

Three young girls’ lives have been ruined, but could they be connected somehow?

Charles Dickens visits Annie and is immediately convinced of her innocence. He enlists the help of Superintendent Sam Jones to find the real murderer before Annie comes to trial.

How are the three girls linked to Plume? And if Annie didn’t kill him, who did?

What Charles Dickens uncovers will shock him to his very core…


Praise for the Charles Dickens Investigations

The Murder of Patience Brooke

This is a well-written and engaging novel. The pages keep turning, and the evocation of foggy Victorian London is excellent …’ (Historical Novel Society)

(An) aspect of this novel that adds to its enjoyability is the fact that it feels very much like a traditional gaslight mystery, with footsteps in the fog, an unseen person with sinister voice singing a well-known tune … Put all these elements together and it creates just the right amount of suspense.’  (Crime Fiction Lover)

Death at Hungerford Stairs

Briggs’s real triumph is the creation of secondary characters who could have come straight out of Oliver twist and whose fates will tug at readers’ heartstrings … (Publishers’ Weekly)

This is a cleverly crafted story with magnificent period detail to flesh out the circumstances in large and small ways. All the characters whether major or minor ring true in this Dickens London. (Jennifer Palmer: Promoting Crime Fiction)

The dark side of Victorian London is effectively portrayed in a chilling tale of child murder, deceit and madness … (Historical Novel Society)

Murder by Ghostlight

This is a fast-paced and page-turning tale, and the author clearly pays homage to Dickens in the style of writing (Dickensian descriptions of poverty, industry and gloomy weather abound), but also in the colourfully named characters, such as razor-nosed Eva Stabb and solicitors Tape and Binding. This a cleverly written Victorian mystery … While the author doesn’t stint on the gore, the narrative is witty and intriguing …  (Historical Novel Society)

This is another enjoyable book from J.C. Briggs with its fascinating characters, real and imagined, its intricate mystery and its evocation of Victorian London and Manchester.    (Jennifer S. Palmer: Promoting Crime Fiction)

Briggs has captured Dickens’s gift of caricature and sense of the ridiculous side of life. That, taken with the social comment, is still as relevant as when Dickens was writing. (Crime Review)